*Straight White Men,* 9/5/18
Richard and I saw *Straight White Men* on Broadway on 9/5/18. It's a new-ish play by Young Jean Lee - - it played off Broadway on 2014, then Steppenwolf early this year, then it started its Broadway performance run in June. It's the story of a man and his three sons, played by Stephen Payne as the father and Armie Hammer, Josh Charles, and Paul Schneider as the sons. Tom Skerritt was originally supposed to play the father, but he left the show before it opened.
The pre-show had a mylar curtain, busy colored lights, and loud music. I'm so out of touch, I don't know if you'd classify it as club music, house music, electronica, or some other genre unknown to me. It was LOUD, whatever it was. Two people came out onstage, played by Ty DeFoe and T. L. Thompson. They were playing non-binary, gender fluid people of color, who introduced the show (one of these roles is often played by Kate Bornstein, who wasn't in our performance). They welcomed the audience to the show and introduced themselves. They apologized for the music, to those of us who didn't like it - - and to those of us who did like it, "Congratulations! We hope you enjoyed your moment of privilege." That was cute, it was worth sitting through that loud music.
They said that the curtain would go up in a moment on the story we were there to see, and that the four actors would try not to notice us. The tone of this prologue was cute and slightly coy, which you think would be grating, but somehow it was adorable. The high point of the show.
The play itself... I don't know how else to say this, it was just plain stupid. Richard described it as "*The Honeymooners* in a better house." A lot of rudeness, bitterness, and misplaced aggression. A lot of ritualized behavior between the brothers, which I found tiresome. Some "pick on the short guy" business, which I found familiar (being the shortest of three boys myself). I wondered for a while when there was going to be some kind of actual conflict, and then, beholding the conflict, I wished I hadn't wondered.
The end of the play had lots of manufactured drama. The playwright needed to make up her mind whether she was writing a family drama that was naturalistic and exciting (like *August Osage County*) or something more unreal and scathing, that really made the audience examine their thoughts about family (like something by Pinter or Albee). The middle ground was not a success.